The finale of Nickelodeon’s Legend of Korra, Book 3: Change is officially online, and it quite possibly synched this season as being its best Season thus far and possibly in the entire franchise.
I will be the first person to admit, that Legend of Korra Book 2: Spirits (Season 2) left me seemingly underwhelmed, but this latest season has definitely raised the bar by meeting quite a few of my expectations and exceeding a few others. Let’s dig in:
Note: This article is filled with tons of spoilery goodness. Please read at your own discretion… or hop on to Black Girl Nerds for my spoiler-free version.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that Korra’s screw up at the end of Season 2, which ultimately had me feeling like she was the world’s worst Avatar ever, actually made the perfect intro to what would be a great Season 3. Korra decision to let the spirits roam free has caused major infrastructure damage to Republic City, which has caused the President of RC to think of Korra as a nuisance. Her attempts are rectifying the problem are a lost cause and because she’s unable to call on her past Avatar lives for help, she’s officially screwed. In addition, the harmonic convergence led to one of this Season’s villain’s, the philosopher Zaheer, to become an air bender and he uses his new talent to its fullest extent to make for a sexy breakout.
Speaking of Zaheer’s breakout, one of the best things Book 3 has offered has been the insane bending. The breakout scenes for Ghazan (the lava-bending earth bender), Ming-Hua (the double-amputee water bender), P’Li (the combustion fire bender), and Zaheer were impeccable — between the matter in which they were imprisoned, to their manner of escape, this Season was a feast for the eyes.
Another beautiful theme that made this season better than the others, has to be the resurgence of the core of the original Avatar. We got to see Team Avatar (Mako, Bolin, Korra, Asami, Tenzin, and Lin Beifong) travel to new locales across their fantastical world, helping others along the way, which brought back an essence that was lost in both Season 1 (Book: Air) and Season 2 (Book 2: Spirits) and made the show all the better for it. With Team Avatar’s travels, there were more complex battles to be won, and its these struggles are what gives Season 3 its edge.
Where as in Book 1: Air, the big bad was Amon, and “Spirits” the villain was Korra’s uncle, Unalaq, this season we had more than one forces working against Korra. The new ruler of the Earth Kingdom, the Earth Queen, is no friend to the Avatar and deems her an enemy against the state when Korra frees the air benders from her corrupt clutches. Additionally, Korra has to combat the newly-reformed Red Lotus, whose plan of anarchy looks like a harrowing reality in part to their ruthless methods. Reestablishing the air nomad society is another problem within itself — one that Korra tries to tackle and ultimately hands off to Tenzin — oh, and then there’s Korra’s inability to know what to do because, well, she has no real spiritual guidance.
Aside from the over-arching difficulties, there are the personal ones. Coupled with Korra’s problems, are Lin’s strained relationship with her sister, Suyin, Tenzin’s determination to make the air nomads great again, and Bolin’s need to unlock his untapped potential. The way in which each character handles their own internal struggle makes for great character development, and their interaction with the new (and old) characters this season makes the story even more rich.While the Red Lotus were clearly the villains to beat this season, they were somehow likable. The manner in which they attacked each of there fights against Team Avatar was amazing, and you couldn’t help but be astonished at their sheer determination and tact. Asami and Korra’s budding friendship does wonders for the feminine prowess on the show, and Jinora’s budding romance for street urchin-turned-air bender Kai brings a little light-heartedness to the intense situation.
With the light, comes the dark and this Season’s biggest edge over the others has to be its more adult themes and dark tones. The season touched on various political ideals, including the Red Lotus’s anarchist agenda to restore true balance to the world. In order to achieve their goal, the Red Lotus would have to snuff out the world leaders, including the Avatar, and in one scene we see them do just that. This is probably the first time we’d ever seen an on-screen murder on the show, and the manner in which it was done was both chilling and spellbinding.
But what ultimately synched Season 3 as the best Season of the franchise has the be the bitter-sweet two-episode Season 3 finale (“Enter the Void”/”Venom of the Red Lotus”). After Tenzin endures a cruel beating by the Red Lotus, most of the hope is lost by our Team Avatar, even after they create a bonafide plan to recapture the air nomads out of the Red Lotus’ possession and take down the crew. It’s at this point, that much like the epic four-part series finale of Avatar (Book 3: Fire, “Sozin’s Comet”), each of the members of Team Avatar squares off with the Red Lotus in a do-or-die battle. Relationships are mended, untapped potential is realized, there’s bending galore, another gruesome on-screen death, and Team Avatar makes out in the last second, but there are dire repercussions that make the show more human than it has ever been before. Yes, there is light at the end of the tunnel, but for some of the characters, there’s tons of lingering doubt.
Whereas last season, when I watched each new episode out of routine, this season I watched longing to know what was going to happen next, and literally putting my hands over my eyes for fear that Korra and her team were going to fall ten steps back. This time there was an added element to it that made it all worth my incessant fangirling over the trailer worth every second of it. I wanted to cry. In the same way that I wanted to cry when watching Avatar come to an end, but this time, it was different. The aftermath touched me to the core as there was much to rejoice over as much as there was much to be uncertain of. I felt invested in Korra. She had redeemed herself in more ways that one and for the first time since ever seeing Korra, I wanted to thank her for doing her best.
My only gripe would have to be the fact that we didn’t get more of a backstory for the members of the Red Lotus, but for their short tenure, they definitely left their mark.
It wouldn’t be fair to me to leave out the artwork and artistry in writing as a contributing factor to this season, so I must add that all of it accounted for this season being great. For that, I thank creators, Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko for really pushing the envelope this season. I commend them, thank them for making riveting animated TV, and its my sincerest hope that they continue to astound us again on Legend of Korra Book 4.
For a review of Legend of Korra Book 3: Change finale “Enter the Void”/”Venom of the Red Lotus” read what Complex had to say.
Did you watch the Legend of Korra Book 3: Change finale? What did you think? Let’s talk about it in the comments or chat on Twitter.